I’m a huge history buff, and I’ve always been fascinated military strategies and their far-reaching consequences. Take World War II for example. One of the main reasons the Allies were able to triumph over Nazi Germany was their prolonged and relentless bombing campaign on oil fields and pipelines. An army without fuel cannot be effective, especially given the modern, mobile tactics employed by many armed forces.
In a report called Fueling The Future Force, the authors say that the U.S. Military must be entirely oil-free by 2040 if it wants to maintain a strategic edge and avoid the inevitable lack of oil. Can it be done?
There is plenty of doomsaying and prophesy about peak oil, though the simple fact remains there is not one person on the planet who actually knows how much easy oil is left to be tapped. What we are all pretty sure of is that oil won’t last forever, and considering that China and India are becoming the world’s largest automotive consumers, America will no longer have the biggest grasp on oil imports.
It is also no secret that many of the countries we get our oil from could one day be our enemies (or currently are). Venuzela’s Huge Chavez is constantly rattling the saber, and while Saudi Arabia loves us for the money we send them, 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia and the export extremism in the form of funding extremist ideological teachings in a large proportion of muslim schools around the world. Both of those countries are also rife with political discontent; what would a rebellion in Saudi Arabia mean for our oil imports?
By 2040, the report estimates that oil will be in short supply… and it is possible. China could be buying upwards of 50 million automobiles a year. Even if they are all hybrids, that is still a lot of fuel. Even if oil is still available, it could be outrageously expensive. Imagine trying to fight a war where gas cost $400 a gallon. That could get expensive.
The report says that 77% of the military’s energy supply comes from petrol. That is a lot, and it also means we have to ship oil to some rather remote locations just to power our fighting force. The military is starting to recognize the advantages of alternative power sources though. There is wind and sunshine just about everywhere, and nobody controls it Mr. Burns style. There is a lot of talk about trimming the fat from the government these days too; greening the military is a great way to do that. A greener, leaner military means a win for all, and often times that technology will trickle down into the public sector. Can the military go green in just 30 years though? Seems like a tall order, even for the planet’s premier fighting force.